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Episode reviews for Episode 10.11 - Door Jam

Avg. Viewer Review: 80.3%
Number of Reviews: 10

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The Silver Level, May 25, 2013

Reviewer: Sammy J from Melbourne, Australia


It's always funny when you discover things about an episode many years later. I saw this episode on first broadcast (one of the very few times I did that) and have always been delighted when it comes up in the schedule. It's funny to learn both the scenario behind its production, and the mixed reactions it has received.

Perhaps this episode is made for people like myself who just enjoy Kelsey Grammer growling the words "relaxation grotto" with a vague air of discontent. Those syllables seem perfectly suited to the character's speech style, I can almost imagine the episode working around that. Like two recent stagnant-but-funny episodes, "Deathtrap" and "Enemy at the Gate", "Door Jam" hinges (pardon the pun) on a reasonably repetitive, claustrophobic plot, enlivened by the character work by Grammer and David Hyde Pierce: surely one of comedy's great double acts. Even the idea of Porte D'Argente is perfect, setting the Crane brothers on a natural arc. Has this plot been done before? Of course. Does it still work? Certainly. The fact that the episode had to be held back and retooled due to issues with the original subplot seems to work in its favour. With the exception of a couple of Daphne/Martin scenes (discussed below), the episode centres on the Crane brothers vs. the club, which makes it a tight little morality tale. The development of the plot's ridiculousness feels quite natural. Are we surprised that the brothers keep finding further doors? Of course not. Is it convenient that Roz knows Senator Ogden? Of course. (Then again, I find this more likely than the weird coincidence where she shows up at the theatre in "Hot Ticket" just so Peri Gilpin can have a scene!) Yet, with the tight focus, everything combines to create a neat little comic tragedy. I've already mentioned Grammer, who does his usual bang-up job of ambition alternating with paranoia. David Hyde Pierce, of course, gets many of the best moments, from his (needless?) impersonation of Cam Winston to that exquisite caterpillar like crawl, and my personal favourite, his prefect-like delivery of the line, "Plutonium's radioactive, no-one's going to make a door out of it." (Pierce's own injury during filming, falling from the gurney, contributed to just about everything going wrong this week, it seems.) Beyond that, the guest cast are really great, even in small roles. The male receptionist has exactly the attitude you catch among front-of-house employees of places that wish to be exclusive but polite, while the female attendant pronounces "Silver Level" in a wonderfully ambiguous way: she doesn't mean it to be patronising, but she can't hide her true intent. To be honest, I very much enjoy the antics of the boys throughout.

The subplot deserves some analysis too. After trashing the original plot, the series had to write in some secondary scenes that only utilised Jane Leeves and John Mahoney. They came up with some of the smallest, least eventful scenes in the show's history - Daphne raising and lowering Martin's self-esteem by likening him to old TV characters - and I can see why people find this to be inane. I don't disagree, however I'm ultimately defensive for two reasons. One: they were in a tough bind. Sure, not everyone will excuse lazy writing. But I know what it's like to have limited time and resources in these situations, and the desire to write something that could be filmed in a day and fit into an existing structure ain't easy. Two: regardless of how slowly things play out, they're only a couple of scenes, and they do their bit to colour in the Daphne/Martin relationship after ten years. The pair have been able to annoy each other at the drop of a hat, yet there's such a profound respect between them. Martin's ego and self-image are grounded in his various life stages, and it's nice to see Daphne figure him out in this way. I've had this feeling with older people I work with, coming to see them as more than just "old folks", and I see that in Jane Leeves' eyes during this story. Is it the best they could have come up with? Perhaps, perhaps not. But I'm not about to scratch this episode out of my DVD set because of it. (Although, one final question: the series hasn't really answered the housekeeper question it raised back in "Bristle While You Work". A bit disappointing, even if the answer is just Daphne!)


Rating: 86%

 

Spa(rring) Partners, Nov 09, 2011

Reviewer: David Sim from Skelmersdale, Lancashire


Season 10 swings back and forth like a pendulum. For every Roe to Perdition there's a Trophy Girlfriend just waiting to upset the balance. Door Jam falls somewhere between the two. Not good enough to rank among the best of the season, but not bad enough either to sit on the rubbish dump along with the worst S10 has yet to offer.

The fact that its about Frasier and Niles is a definite plus. Too many episodes this season fall into the routine of pairing Niles and Daphne. Just because they're married now that doesn't mean they have to share every single second of screentime. For simply recognising that fact, Door Jam has a head start.

Ever since switching postboxes, Frasier's been getting some of Cam Winston's letters by mistake. One of them is an exclusive invite to 'La Porte D'Argent'. Frasier and Niles have no idea what that is. And when a phone call goes nowhere because they don't have the right access code, they decide to get the inside scoop.

I quite liked the first scene at 'La Porte D'Argent'. You can only get into the place if you're on "the list", almost like an exclusive night club, and we get an amusing battle of wills between Frasier and a receptionist who refuses to relax the rule for anyone. Niles comes to the rescue, pretending to be Cam Winston (doing a fair job with the voice and mannerisms), and then they finally find out what the place is. Its a day spa.

Frasier and Niles are soon in paradise, but then the novelty wears off as soon as they find out there's a gold level and they're stuck in silverdom. Its funny because they're happy with what the spa has to offer at first, until they find a level above they're station and its no longer good enough for them.

It does seem a bit predictable that Roz happens to know somebody who could get them in. Its something we've seen all too often by now. In this case, a senator they saw going into the gold level. When they finally get there, Frasier and Niles feel like they're in nirvana, until they see a platinum door.

They're snobbery surfaces again, but going through it backfires on them when it only leads to an alleyway. The episode ends on a funny sight gag with Frasier and Niles (embalmed like a mummy) having to run from a beehive, attracted to they're edible facials. Funny as it is to watch Niles shuffling away like that, the nitpicker in me wanted to know what a beehive was doing in an alley anyway.

Door Jam is hardly the funniest plotline Frasier and Niles have ever been in. For me, the definitive episode that underlined they're snobbery was the Season 1 delight Dinner at Eight. Door Jam never really does the things that episode did so well. We laugh at Frasier and Niles as they're snooty outlooks on life backfire on them, and then laugh even harder at watching them get they're well deserved comeuppances. Door Jam aims for the same kind of thing, but it plays out on a much dumber level.

But even that's preferable to the completely ridiculous plotline (I use the term loosely) Martin and Daphne are forced to endure. The two of them are watching The Rockford Files on TV, and Martin gets very cranky when Daphne compares him to Rockford's Dad. That's it.

Its one of the dumbest subplots I've ever seen on this show. Understandably, neither John Mahoney, nor Jane Leeves seem willing to inject any life into this feeble nonsense they're asked to work with. Even the irritating date they went on in Three Valentines (which it reminded me of) wasn't this bad.

Much more interesting than the episode itself was Door Jam's troubled production. It was supposed to air way back at the beginning of the season, and was then pulled from the schedule when the producers felt the original subplot (a physiotherapist observes Daphne's techniques on Martin) was not as strong as it should have been. Judging from the one we wound up with, Heide Perlman really should hang her head in shame.

If that weren't bad enough, David Hyde Pierce fell off a gurney, suffered a head injury and had to be rushed to hospital. That must have been the scene when he's wrapped in bandages struggling to stand up. With that accident in mind, its hard to watch the scene without getting uncomfortable.

Door Jam is symptomatic of the schizophrenic nature of this season. It has its high points alright, but its forced to share them with some excruciating lows. This episode encapsulates that more than any other this season.


Rating: 65%

 

Porte d'Argent is Gold, Jan 14, 2011

Reviewer: NS from Atlanta, GA


I have enjoyed watching this episode many times. It remains one of my favorites. Prior to reading the reviews here, I had no idea that there had been well-known production problems.

This episode is such a wonderful vehicle to showcase the brothers constant pull to whatever is the best, regardless of how good it really is. The Daphne and Martin subplot was also fun, and reminds us that Martin, who is usually above the fray, has his vanities too.

One of my favorite lines:

Roz to Frazier: It's an animation of your hair-line receding.


Rating: 91%

 

Up there with the very best, Apr 03, 2008

Reviewer: FrasierTid from England


This is one of my all time favourite Frasier shows. The sheer snobbery that makes the Crane
brothers (yet again) make perfect fools of themselves, but in such a comic way, lights up this
whole episode. The slapstick ending - with Niles wrapped from head to foot like an Egyptian
mummy - as he shuffles and hops around in the alley trying to find a way out, is absolutely
unforgettable.


Rating: 90%

 

A great late episode, Oct 09, 2007

Reviewer: Streetworker from Manchester, UK


I love Door Jam because the main plot involving Frasier and Niles is quintessentially "Frasier". Their snobbery is hilarious and the final sequence, with Niles shuffling like a Mummy, is one of my all-time favourite sight-gags in the series. The Martin-Daphne subplot is, at best, insubtantial, but is well played by both nonetheless and does nothing to mar the episode.


Rating: 93%

 

More trivia, Feb 03, 2006

Reviewer: Amanda from Boise, ID, USA


I had seen this episode more than once, and I always wondered what "La Porte D'Argent" translated to... so I finally figured out how to spell it and looked it up.

Considering how intelligent and cultured Frasier and Niles consider themselves to be, it's a wonder they didn't realize "La Porte D'Argent" is french for "The Money Door".

(Side note - add an "e" to "argent" (argente) and it becomes "The Silver Door". I wonder which the producers meant...)


Rating: 95%

 

DOOR JAM, Nov 16, 2005

Reviewer: Cake for Brains from Manchester, UK


Unfortunately I found ‘Door Jam’ to be of a very under whelming content and found that the episode felt very disjointed and limp in several places. I understand that this episode suffered numerous production problems and hazards (such as David Hyde Pierce’s accident) and the fact that this episode was pushed back for re-writing because the staff weren’t satisfied with the first result shows. To be honest, I think these difficulties are represented in the lacklustre atmosphere of this episode, and therefore I think its one of Season 10’s weaker efforts thus far. My problems with this episode, and unfortunately with a great deal of the tenth season is that the writers seem to be relying very much on predictability and coincidences in order to make the storylines work, and this same technique is employed again in ‘Door Jam’. It felt very contrived that Roz just happened to be acquainted with Senator Ogden and that, low and behold, he owed her a favour!

The only reason the episode isn’t a total disaster is that there are a few good lines, quips and comments made along the way in the plot revolving around Niles and Frasier, who try to get into Seattle’s most exclusive health spa, when Frasier opens Cam Winston’s mail. Of course Frasier and Niles being Frasier and Niles aren’t satisfied being pampered in the ‘slums’ of the ‘icy’ silver level, and as soon as they realise there’s a gold level, they determine to get admitted. Over the last ten years the viewer has come to know and love the siblings obsessive nature and snobby behaviour, but this episode felt too flat and unrealistic to be truly funny, and therefore Niles and Frasier’s petty attempts to get into the gold level didn’t work for me at all.

However the ghastly subplot involving Daphne and Martin made the main storyline seem like a slice of brilliance, because this section of the episode is devastatingly banal and pointless, that you feel sorry for John Mahoney and Jane Leeves having to work with such feeble material. In fact, I think this could possibly be the worst subplot the show has ever done and I didn’t laugh once. I don’t know if my enjoyment would have been heightened if I’d ever seen ‘The Rockford Files’, but Martin refusing to the watch the show just because Daphne thought him to be like Rockford’s cranky father was just awful, and felt completely and utterly ridiculous.

After Roz conveniently gets Niles and Frasier into the gold level of the health spa, they are still not satisfied, even though they are receiving luxurious treatment. They discover that there is a platinum door (how predictable) but realise, after illegally sneaking through that its not part of the spa, but a warehouse/storage room. The ending of the episode though was terrible; Niles was wearing an orange-honey mask and there just happened to be hive of bees, although the sight of Niles attempting to run (waddle) away from them is a nice visual gag that ends this rather poor episode. It just felt really gimmicky and the majority of the humour seemed strained and too random to really pull any punches with the audience, and I have to say ‘Door Jam’ is definitely at the bottom of the pile when compared with the rest of Season 10 so far.


Rating: 63%

 

'Door Jam' review, Oct 08, 2005

Reviewer: Jocelyn from London, UK


An episode which suffered well-documented production problems before it finally aired three months later than originally intended, the biggest setback occurred when David Hyde Pierce suffered an injury when he fell off a guerney during filming, while the original subplot was dropped and then reworked for 'Bristle While You Work', with it's replacement here - truly tedious filler featuring Martin and Daphne watching 'The Rockford Files' - only surpassed by the execrable Martin/Roz dog subplot from 'Motor Skills' as the dullest ever subplot in an episode of 'Frasier'. Thankfully, the main plot of Frasier and Niles enjoying themselves at a day spa is pretty enjoyable if a bit insubstantial to fill a whole episode. Their attempts to move up to the 'Gold Level' - finally achieved thanks to some help from Roz - lead to the funniest moment right at the end where the brothers then discover a platinum door, only to have their curiosity rewarded by getting locked outside by the trash cans. I loved the final shot where Niles runs towards the camera dressed like a mummy as a swarm of bees head for his and Frasier's 'edible facials'. Although the humour does feel a bit strained in places, the double act of Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce ensures this episode is mostly entertaining if not nearly strong enough to warrant all the problems which occured during it's production.


Rating: 73%

 

comedy excellence, Aug 21, 2005

Reviewer: Alex Foligno from Bream, Gloucestershire,UK


Firstly don't listen to the other review; this show is easily up there in the "best of Crane". This episode shows the true contrasting personalities of the major characters, which makes Frasier one of the greatest comedy shows ever. This is clearly illustrated similarities of Frasier and Niles and their desires to be at the peak of Seattles A-list. Starting when they are outraged when they find out that they had been left out of Seattle's lastest A-list club and have to use Roz's connections to get them through the gold door. However we do see how peoples' desires can lead them out of what they work so hard to get into.
All in all a piece of comedy genius. Well done to Heide Perlman.


Rating: 92%

 

A Double B Feature, Jun 26, 2005

Reviewer: TheMurphy from UK


Two B-plots (one amusing, one dull as dog’s doings) stitched together to make one of the most forgettable episodes in the series’ history. While there have been plenty of hilarious moments made out of the Crane brother’s social climbing snobbery, their desperate need to become members of the day spa and then the gold level are just poorly written, not that much could have been made out of such a thin concept to begin with. Add to this a truly tedious piece of throwaway nonsense involving Martin’s ego being bruised by Daphne and it’s almost like watching a different series altogether. There are some consolations. Pierce manages to steal the show with his impersonation of Cam Winston and his physical comedy when wrapped up like a mummy. The pay off in the alley is also undeniably funny.

(I have heard that there were problems with this episode; David Hyde Pierce injured himself during filming and a different sub plot was removed for reworking and given a quick replacement. Perhaps it would have been better to just bin the episode completely. It wouldn’t have been missed.)


Rating: 55%